Mother fighting against illegal nudity on Caspersen Beach

9:40 PM, Nov 11, 2010   |    comments
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Venice, Florida --  Sarasota County's Caspersen Beach is known for its shelling, plentiful supply of pre-historic sharks teeth and its all natural state...and we're not just talking about the beach.

"It's an embarrassment to me as a long time resident," said Venice resident, Elsa Dempsey.

If you talk to most locals, they'll tell you, they've heard of the rumors that the southern end of the beach is known to attract beachgoers who prefer to take a dip in their own all natural state.

"It's common knowledge," said one beachgoer, shrugging his shoulders.

Dempsey says she's heard the rumors, but it wasn't until recently when she took a long walk down the beach as her family went fishing, did she come face to face with a part of nature she would have rather avoided.

"I encountered a man standing completely nude, ankle deep in the water and as I approached, he actually turned to face me.  I think I was just very shocked at how brazen he was and how free he felt to expose himself to other people in our park," she said.

When she confronted him about his bad behavior, she says he told her, still standing in the buff, "Nobody's down here," she said, "Like that's his justification."

Nudity is illegal on Caspersen Beach, as it is on most all of Florida's beaches, but Dempsey says some people repeatedly turn a blind eye and a naked back to the law.

"The vast majority of people I talk to just avoid it, which is what everybody wants me to do, just avoid it, but I realized that avoiding is perpetrating the behavior," she said.

Dempsey says as a mother, she wants to feel comfortable taking her children to the beach, especially the secluded, natural southern part of the beach she says nudists frequent.

"I feel a whole generation of Venice children have been deprived of that beautiful, natural beach," she said.

She's complained to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office twice.

A spokesperson tells 10 News, deputies regularly patrol the beach by foot and by helicopter, but as of now, no one has been caught or arrested for nudity.

Over the years, the sheriff's office says they've only received three complaints and that each time a deputy responded, the perpetrator was already gone.

Dempsey figures her calls make up two of those complaints.

'People's discomfort is feeding into it," she figured.

So, instead of telling people to avoid the far end of the beach, she's started her own campaign through a flier titled "Take Back our Beach!" to encourage people to not be afraid, walk out there and enjoy the beach's natural beauty.

If they happen to encounter someone letting "all their nature hang out", she's hoping people tell those individuals the behavior is not only illegal, but not tolerated.

'I think they're not thinking about how it affects the whole community," said Dempsey.

By the way...the only Florida beach that allows full nudity is on the other coast on Miami's Haulover Beach.

Laura Kadechka

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